Monday, April 13, 2015

Cows on public land, is it right?

As you know, a few weeks back I was HIT by a bull during a mt bike ride. I was on National Forest land on a dirt road. I could have SO VERY EASILY been killed or badly maimed had the circumstances changed in ANY detail. IF there was a high bank on my left instead of a downhill, IF he had hit me higher up or lower down than directly on my hip, throwing me OVER the bushes along the road and down the bank, out of his sight. IF he had missed me entirely and just hit part of the bike causing me to crash (which would also have been the result of a higher/lower hit on my body). If ANY of those circumstances had come to play, I'd have been totally at his mercy lying there on the road, and most likely wouldn't have walked those 14 miles back to my car with my broken bike (I try not to imagine him stomping ME instead of my wheels, as that is a very scary thought).

And so. My mtb ride this past Saturday I AGAIN dealt with cows. This time they were Black Angus....about 30 or so of them, INCLUDING....yes...drum-roll please: a bull (again hornless). I was again in the Los Padres National Forest. The "road" was laughable. It might have been a road 10 or 20 years ago, but no longer. It's nothing but a dried up creek bed and a highly churned up (and CURRENTLY OCCUPIED) cow trail. I had ridden up Colson Canyon and down the other side to the T-intersection of La Brea Road, and turned left (north) headed towards Miranda Pines up on Sierra Madre Ridge. I wasn't very far up La Brea 'road' fighting my way thru the sandy cow-tracked trail when I started to see signs of fresh cow activity. I kept riding and soon enough I came up on the 'herd'. I was down in a valley so this time there were plenty of places for the herd to leave the laughable road, but they didn't.

I had my trail "dinger" bell mounted on my bike this time, so-as NOT to surprise any livestock I might come upon...and it worked. They were watching for me as I came into sight, and started trotting away en-mass almost as soon as I came into view. I very quickly figured out where the bull was...he was standing rear-guard for HIS herd. Standing there, staring at me, DARING me to come closer. He wasn't as big as the brown beast that clobbered me a few weeks ago, but he was still PLENTY big. Big enough to break every bone in my body without breaking a sweat I'm guessing. I could have turned around right there, but what can I say...I had only gone a small portion of my intended ride for the day, and I REFUSE to be chased off of PUBLIC land by a bunch of cows!

So we started playing the game. They would trot away and I would follow...very slowly...partly due to the horrid nature of the road (HA, I mean COW-TRAIL), and partly to let the herd get a bit ahead of me. Overall I think for this 5 mile portion I was only able to hold around 4 to 5 mph at best (it was quite flat here too btw). And that was with me working pretty hard thru the churned up sand and/or rocky dry creek-bed. It was VERY slow going, which was ok I guess, as I still had the COWS to deal with. I was hoping that they'd mosey off the trail on every bend of the creek, but they just kept following it, going exactly where I was hoping to go, and then they'd stop, and I'd have another face-off with THE BULL (by face off, I mean I'm still at LEAST 50 yards away, probably much farther). I had been playing this frustrating game for around 3 to 4 miles when we came to a big left/right bend in the trail. The cows were ahead of me as it veered left, and they had all stopped at the far left of the bend. As I came into sight of the herd, I realized THIS was my chance to finally get around them.

So I picked up my bike and hiked it up and over the hill that the trail/creek was veering around. I came down the other side to a steep drop-off to the creek-bed, and had to head back towards the herd to get the drop-off low enough for me to slide down the bank and back onto the cow-trail. It worked...I was ahead of them, and the bull was still at their rear, wondering where I had gone most likely. Stupid cows, you can't defeat ME!

So I picked up my pace a bit and very quickly came upon MORE fresh cow goo on the trail. And sure enough, soon I spotted a few cows and calfs, still trotting in my direction. I guess the herd had fragmented and these were a small group, and it appeared they had no bull with them. They were still ahead of me when I heard a gun-shot, and very soon after that here they came.  STAMPEDE right at me. I jumped off my bike and started looking for a place to go....there wasn't that many of them but they were now AFRAID and I wasn't going to get anywhere safe. I started yelling at them and thankfully they veered down a bank and back into the creek-bed (which had some water in it at this point). I was quite relieved and I had no idea what I would have done had they not turned. So I kept riding and just a bit ahead I was at the Wagon Flat campground, and there at a picnic table in the middle of nowhere sat 3 guys in cammies with rifles.

I'm guessing they saw the cows coming at them and shot into the air to scare them...and it worked. Only they had no way to know they were scaring them right back at ME. I chatted w/ them for a few minutes...they didn't speak very good English (they were Hispanic) but I was quite friendly and wasn't asking just what they were hunting at this time of year (I don't think there's anything in season that requires a rifle...but none of my beeswax...they had rifles after all). I continued my way for another couple miles as the trail FINALLY turned into an actual TRAIL with no sign of was AWESOME! The trail climbed out of the valley and finally T-d into another road of sorts. This is where the hunters were parked I gathered, as there was a white Toyota 4x4 sitting there at the gate.

At this point I figured I should just I had already been on the ride for almost 4 hours, with 17 HARD miles back to my car. I had lost a LOT of time due to the stupid cows and cow-trail-road. I had planned on doing roughly 50 pretty hard miles but was going to get home with just over 30. So I turned around and headed back the way I came. Of course, I knew I had to get past those cows again...and soon enough there they were. They had spread out in the river-bed area but as I approached they started banding together and trotting away in the direction I was headed. And not long after that there was my friend the bull.

The game started up anew, only this time I knew what terrain lie ahead. One one of the wide turns they all went wide left, so I picked up my bike, silenced my dinger bell and RAN as far to the right as I could around the wide turn, thinking if they slowed/stopped I'd be able to get in front of them. But I came around the corner and jumped on my bike, there they were...we were at a dead-heat as to who would get to the trail first...only they had the numbers and I backed down. So we played the game some MORE...until another similar situation arose and this time I came around the wide turn ahead of the herd. I jumped on my bike and hammered my way (as best you can hammer in that kind of sandy rocky cow-pocked trail) and was in front of them by about 50 yards. I poured on the gas and was all excited...for about 5 seconds. THEN the herd started to RUN. IN MY DIRECTION!

I had figured as soon as I got ahead of them they would turn and go the other direction. I figured wrong. I was screaming and yelling at them all while I gave an OLYMPIC effort on the bike, and the charging herd (bull included) seemed to be making a big effort to catch me. Obviously I have no idea if that was their goal...all I know for sure is they were NOT stopping, nor turning around.

It's amazing what you can do when you are in fear for your life. I'm pretty sure I set a sandy-rocky-cow-trail 1/4-mile world mtb-record on this ride. Once I had a good gap on them they FINALLY stopped chasing me, and I just wanted to fall off the bike and pass out...but I didn't, as I was still quite afraid they would start running again and I wanted as much distance as possible between us.

FINALLY I got back to the T intersection where I began the long climb out of the valley. Turns out I was pretty wiped out, as I was barely crawling up the road (and yes, this was an actual honest-to-god DIRT ROAD...and it was LOVELY!) The rest of the ride was uneventful other than it was REALLY HOT...but eventually I got back to my car. I ended up with a measly 32 miles for the day, and it took me 5 hours and 17 minutes of actual moving time to do it. THAT was one slow hard ride (and Strava only gave me an average estimated power of 51 watts...HA! Strava has NO IDEA how hard I was working on that cow trail. Their system only looks at elevation gain and time and speed to calculate way they could know I was pretty much riding thru quicksand for 10 miles of that 32).

So ANYWAY. Today at work during breaks and lunch I was researching cattle grazing on public lands...turns out it's a big issue as (quite obviously) the cattle do a LOT of damage to whatever land they graze on. They have totally destroyed the road that used to exist. And that doesn't even call into play the public safety factor. I mean, I have a right to be on that land too....don't I have a right NOT to have my life in jeopardy from these cattle? I searched online and finally found some phone numbers to our local Forest Service ranger station....I talked to their operator for a bit explaining that I just wanted to talk to somebody about these cattle on forest service land...and see what MY rights are. DO I have a right to defend myself? (ie: if I were to carry a gun?) Not that any gun I could carry would stop a bull...probably just make him REALLY mad. And it's not that I'd EVER have any intention of shooting one...but the single shot in the air by the hunters seemed to work REALLY WELL at turning the running cows. So there is THAT to think about.

I have  no idea what to do at this point, I left my message with the main man in charge of the range, and hope he calls me back to chat sometime in the next few days. I just want to let him know my experiences in the last few weeks. I don't think it's reasonable to have to risk DEATH just to ride my bike on PUBLIC forest service land. But I also think these grazing rights have been around for a LONG time, and the ranchers won't take it very kindly of my thinking maybe they shouldn't be doing that. Also I wanted to ask the ranger IF the owner of the cows is liable for them...(ie: does some rancher owe me a new set of XTR tubeless mtb wheels?) or is that just my loss? Not that it matters, I have zero idea where the brown cows a few weeks ago came from nor did I see or get a picture of a brand or the cows/bull.

All I know for sure is that they really don't belong there IMO. They are completely destroying the land (OUR land), and also are quite dangerous as I can state as a FACT.

And so....I've had QUITE ENOUGH of cows for a while I can tell you. Why can't I find the trails that run thru the free-range gopher herds? THAT'S what I'm looking for!

Have a great week!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

When farm animals attack

The first thing I'll say is that I'm ok. The 2nd thing I'll say is that my Mt bike isn't. And the third thing I'll say is that it could have been SO much worse.

OK. Now that I have your interest, I'll tell you what happened...but you'll have to bear with me, cuz I can be quite long winded sometimes getting to the point.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold, but with a quite reasonable projected high temp of 72 for the day. My plan was for me to go on a solo Mt bike ride. My MTB partner of late (Mike) was going down to Fontana to the US Cup MTB race today (this is the same race series that Cannondale is giving away a new MTB every race, and Fatty was the FIRST winner). This weekend is the 2nd race of that series. But I digress. I was going to go back to Sierra Madre Ridge and give it a go for the long haul. I tried it about a month ago and it rained on me (and I slid out on a mucky corner pretty close to my car and then had to put my bike (and me) back in my car all icky sticky (still have mud in there from that). There was a perfect forecast for this long out and back ride...not too hot, not too cold. The rain was weeks ago so the road (the entire ride is a dirt road) should be in pretty good shape.

I left home a bit after 8am full of hope and excitement at the long hard ride I had waiting for me (I like rides like this). Got to the start point and ready to ride, turned on my GPS and my SPOT unit, and lit out for the long climb about 9:05am. It was still chilly but warming up quick. This ride is pretty much a 2 hour plus climb, with just a few descents sprinkled in for good measure. If I make it all the way to my projected turn-arund point it will be 22 miles out, and about 5000' of climbing (with another few thousand on the way back). The road is a rather typical ridge winds it's way up the spine of the Sierra Madre ridge from Hwy 166, going past Miranda Pines (a popular camping spot) and keeps on going. IF you have camping gear you can take this ridge system in a long arc for about a hundred and fifty miles, coming out clear over by Lake Cachuma. Todays ride would only take me to the Bates Canyon road intersection (which is the next dirt-road intersection that takes you back to rt 166).

All was well...I was feeling great and the weather was perfect. I did have a headwind already, but that is somewhat welcome as it keeps you cool as you constantly climb (and it turns out I set my best time so far on the initial 9 mile climb up to Miranda Pines today). Once you pass Miranda Pines you keep climbing, and you can see the ridge ahead of you, climbing up and up. I had only seen 1 vehicle thus far (it's a somewhat popular 4wd road, and also the street legal off-road motorcycle touring thing is big up here too), so it was a very light traffic day. That is fine with me...I've begun doing more MT biking lately as I've almost been killed (not kidding) on my road bike 3 times in the last 6 months...and thought I'd give that a break. Not sure what it is around here that makes it so scary for the road bike....but it is.

It was just about mile 14 of my climb when on a slight downhill curvy section I came around a corner and there were some cows in the road. Specifically, they were trotting along on the right side of the road, going in the same direction I was. From the time I saw them I only had a few seconds to formulate a plan. Should I stop? (then what?) Do I keep going and pass them? That seemed like the best option at the time. So I kept rolling towards them. Not sure how many there were, I'm guessing about 5 or 6 (I only had a brief look at them). All I really saw was the last cow. It was massive. ROUND. Not oval shaped like a regular cow. HUGE. And trotting along as tail-end-Charlie. He was on the right side, and I was passing on the left. All was right with the world.

As I came up on him (her? I have no idea, but there were no horns is all I really know) I saw it's head turn and look at me as I approached. No big deal...the cow looked at me. Suddenly the cow changed direction right as I was alongside ready to pour on the gas. In the blink of an eye this massive cow veered 90 degrees and launched at me, and hit me like a rodeo bull taking out the clown. One moment I'm on my bike, the very next instant I'm flying thru the air off the left side of the road (which is the steep downhill side). I saw the bull turn and charge but there was nowhere to go. Just to the side of the road was a quite thick impenetrable wall of bushes. Impenetrable if you go at them horizontal, but not if you fly over them. That cow must have knocked me at least 10 to 15' down the hill, where I landed in more bushes on my back (I think..all I know is my face didn't get scratched up thankfully, and my back that's my deduction).

In that brief moment I was flying thru the air (after being hit REALLY HARD by the cow) all I could think was "this is bad". As I landed, the thick bushes broke my fall and then kept me from falling/rolling another 100 yards or more down the steep embankment. My next thought was "is the cow chasing me down the bank?" That thought really scared me, as it was quite steep and I did NOT want a GINORMOUS cow rolling over me down this steep hillside. Thankfully there was no more cow. As I stood up in the broken bushes, my next thought was "where is my shoe?" The cow hit me on my right side, and my right shoe was missing...I was standing in the dirt and broken bush/sticks with just the sock. I fought my way out of the bush and crawled my way back-up the bank, moving over to the right where I could see an opening to the road. I peeked over to my left and thankfully the mean cow and his friends were gone. I was alone.

I made my way over to my bike which was lying right on the edge of the road by the bushes (that I flew over).  By this time I was taking stock of my situation...was I hurt? I was sure scratched up. My right hip hurt (I believe that's where the cow hit me, but it's all just a blur actually). My right upper inside calf had a nice long chunk of scraped skin (which had a nice long lump under the entire thing). That might have happened as I abruptly was crushed into my bike and then off/over the bushes...I have no idea what part of me hit what on the way. My right ankle hurt a lot and was missing some skin too...and turns out my right heel is all black & blue. That must have happened when the cow literally popped me out of my shoe with it's blindside linebacker hit. I wouldn't have thought it possible to come out of the's strapped on pretty good...but I did. And thankfully the shoe was lying right there by the bike.

So now I've done a quick damage control report on my body...I'm ok in the big scheme of things (LUCKY!). So now what about the bike? Initial scan it looked fine. OK, not really. BOTH wheels were taco'd BAD. Apparently the mean cow trounced on not one but BOTH of them. And it seems my beautiful Shimano XTR tubeless wheels (which have withstood 11 years and countless miles of abuse) gave it up quick when a HUGE cow stomped on them. I had no camera with me or I would have taken a picture. I've never seen 2 wheels that folded over.

It was then that I freaked out some and started screaming at the cow. "THANK YOU VERY MUCH BROWN COW!" "DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO DESTROY MY  BIKE YOU STUPID COW?" (and a few other things along that line). But it fell on deaf ears, as he was gone. And I was 14 miles from my car. With a badly broken bike. And no phone (not that it would do any good up here). I did have my SPOT unit though (Satellite POsition Tracker)...and it was running. So Jeannie could pop up my map-page and see my GPS positions every 10 minutes any time she wanted. Some of the features of the SPOT units (along with sending out your GPS position anywhere on the globe every 10 minutes where it can be seen by anybody with the link to your map page) is the 4 "message" buttons. 3 of them are programmable by me. And by "programmable", I mean I can set up a specific email message to up to 10 people, and when I push that button the satellite will see my signal and send that email to the people I selected. The first one I have setup for "I'm at the half-way point and am now headed back". The 2nd one is "I'm done for the day and  safe and sound" which I send at the end of my ride/hike/whatever.

The 3rd one is a bit more in depth. It's my personal "emergency" button. To push this button I have to lift up a little flap and press/hold for about 5 seconds. There's no way on earth to accidentally press this button. This one I have never used before. It says something like "I'm OK, but something has happened and I'm going to be late." I envisioned using this one in the event that my bike ever breaks and I'm on foot. Like today. The 4th one is the actual satellite 911 call (anywhere in the world). Once I pry up the cover and  push this button, it sends my name and location to the same satellite center that receives emergency messages from ships and such. They then notify the proper authorities wherever in the world you are of who you are, and exactly WHERE you are (by GPS coordinates) and that you need help.I hope to never need that button. But today I did need my personal emergency button. I had done rough calculations and figured it would take at LEAST 4 hours for me to walk those 14 miles. So I lifted that flap and pushed the button. And resumed carrying my bike. Switching shoulders, holding it in both hands, it was killing me. There was NO WAY I was going to be able to carry my bike to my car. Should I leave it and go? ABANDON my bike? NOT A CHANCE! Not when I'm able anyway...and I was able. I just had to figure out a way to get home.

So I stopped walking and using the "2 rocks propping up the wheel with the badly bent part in the middle of them" method I stomped and stomped my broken wheels into somewhat more of a circle shape from the taco shape. I was hoping to roll my bike down the mountain. Being tubeless wheels/tires, the tires were blown out of the beads and totally flat as the rims were actually sheared in two where the cow stomped them. Multiple spokes were blown out and dangling around, and I had to wrap them around other spokes to keep them from grabbing the brakes each turn around. With the broken out spokes and totally sheared rims, there was zero chance of actually sitting on my bike and coasting for even a little bit. So I pushed on. And stopped again and again to TRY to get the darn wheels to roll thru the frame. They would roll 3/4 of a turn, then catch and drag a few feet, then roll another 3/4 turn. I did it that for a mile or so and stopped AGAIN. Waked some more, and stopped AGAIN. Finally I got both of them to sort-of roll past the long as I maintained constant pressure on the handlebars and pushed (downhill)...though it was wearing away the frame annodizaton where the rear tire was badly rubbing on the frame...but it was either that or carry it...or abandon it (not an option). Note: the front fork has lots more room for the tire to be WAY out of round and still's the rear that was my problem for that first few miles).

So I walked. Somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour after I sent the "I'm ok but I'll be late cuz something happened" emergency SPOT alert, I thought to re-check my SPOT Unit and make sure it's still in "Track mode" (where it sends my position every 10 minutes). No it wasn't. The little covered personal emergency light was still on. Seems it had been sending this message over and over apparently (I didn't know that, as I've never used this button before).

I have Jeannie on the email distribution for my emergency email, but also my brother Greg and his wife Marla. I have them on it just in case Jeannie is working (or busy) and doesn't see the email that I'll be "late" (they both have fancy cell phones that get email...and we don't). Well...that part worked like a charm. Marla got the email(s) and called Greg, who was out on his usual solo Saturday Century road-ride. So here's Marla getting email after email (the same one) that something happened and I'm going to be late. And she was obviously worried (THANKS Marla! I can't tell you how much I appreciate how much you both care, and the trouble I put you through yesterday...Greg was ready to jump in his car and make the 3 hour drive north to help out even). So NOW I know that once I hit EITHER of the emergency buttons, they don't stop sending their emergency message (either my pre-programmed email OR the actually 911 distress call) until either my SPOT lithium batteries go dead, OR I Turn it off. When I saw that it wasn't in track mode (after what I thought was somewhere around 1/2 to 1 hour), I turned it off and back on again, and then put it back in "track mode" and continued my long mosey towards my car. So Marla had called Greg, who had called Jeannie alerting her to my predicament, and Greg even suggested that she call my local bike shop (Main Street Cycles) and see if they know anybody who can find out if I'm ok. So Jeannie sent an email with my SPOT map web-page link to the bike shop where Bob (the main man down at Main Street Cycles) looked at it and knew exactly where I was, and he suggested that she call the  Forest Service (at that point my SPOT wasn't yet back in Track mode).

As I was blissfully unaware of brew-ha-ha I had begun back home, I continued my solo hike with my broken bike. Walk walk walk. And walk some more. I was holding a steady pace around 3.5mph (which is pretty slow, considering that I climbed up this road at about 4.5 to 5mph). Re-doing my math over and over in my head I was figuring I could get to my car around 4 to 4:30pm. However, I was thinking SURELY a truck would come by and give me a ride down. And I was right...about an hour into my LONG hike a truck came by. I was pushing my wobbling bike down the right side of the road when I heard him come up behind I held out my left hand with my palm open for him to slow down. He didn't. Didn't pay me even the slightest attention. He pulled as far to the left as he could (the dirt road isn't that wide) to get around me, and just drove right on by. I couldn't believe it! What planet must he have been from to not even open his passenger window and ask if everything was alright? I'm in the middle of nowhere, pushing a badly broken bike, with my hand out for help and looking back at him. Did I miss something? Should I have JUMPED OUT in the middle of the road to stop him? (I wasn't hurt, but I could have REALLY have used a ride). He didn't even look back at me as he drove away. I was aghast. And forlorn. And even quite MIFFED! I still had 11 miles to walk! Wow...thanks a LOT buddy! I'm scratching YOU from my Christmas Card list, you can count on THAT! (when I finally get home that is).

And so I kept on walking. And back home, Jeannie had noticed that my position was updating again now that I put my SPOT back in "Track" she knew I was moving. Slowly...but moving. She accurately  guessed my bike was broken and I was she wasn't too worried. If it came to it I could push the 911 button at any time and get rescued....but she knows me and I won't do that unless I have to. But Greg and Marla were still worried...(they didn't have the map page showing I was moving again...all they both had is the gazillion emails...which turns out to be 11 looking at my SPOT page this morning). Greg figured I must be hurt. So the phone calls between Southern California and Santa Maria were fast and furious...all while I was on a lovely Saturday stroll with my Mt bike. I had LOTS of time to think things over as I walked. I still can't really come up with any way to change what happened...the cows were suddenly there and I didn't have a lot of choice....things happened quick. Though I have to admit that I never expected the rodeo-bull attack. I thought cows were mostly afraid of us.

It took me about 4-1/2 hours to walk the entire 14 miles. And that was the best pace I could hold. Which isn't too bad really...backpacking it takes us all day to go 14 miles. And all I had to do is push my busted bike. Downhill (mostly). And still it sucked. Turns out Mt biking shoes aren't really equipped for hiking. I have some blisters on my feet in a few places (and my right big toe had pushed right thru my sock, and has a nice hot-spot there for sure too)...but that's all of small consequence in the big scheme of things.

Here's some shots of my broken wheels:

These first two shots are the front. Keep in mind looking at this 2nd shot that I had to stop 5 or 6 times to stomp the rim into shape so it would roll thru the fork (the front was easier as it has a wider gap to roll thru).

 And here's the rear. The 2nd shot shows clearly where he stomped it...and it appears he got this one TWICE, as it's cracked in half like the front just the other side of the broken off valve stem (as you can see in the first pic). They're a total write-off, I doubt very much I can even get replacement rims (though I'l look into it). The spokes are all special order, and I have to assume they all are stressed...once you break one they all are weakened. At a minimum I'd need to replace 2 spokes on each wheel and the rims. Considering I HOPE To be getting a new mt bike SOMEDAY (a Ripley 29'er is my dream), I don't see putting any money back into these. They were sure nice while they lasted tho (Jeannie got me these wheels 10 years ago for my Christmas, New Years, Ground-Hogs Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving gift (they weren't cheap).
If you can remember waaaay back at the beginning of the post I mentioned how things could have been SO MUCH worse. Here's what I thought about during my forced march. IF the up-hill had been on the left side (where I was) and the downhill-side of the mountain on the right side (when the cow was trotting along just before he attacked)...I think I might not be so happy right now. As it was, he FLUNG me down the mountain and out of his sight. Done and gone, threat eliminated. IF it had been the uphill bank instead that he smashed me into, I'm afraid he would most likely would have come at me over and over again, pummeling me into I would have not been able to get out of his sight. I'm only guessing he (she) was at LEAST 1000lbs (2000lbs? I have no idea what a LARGE cow weighs...this one was about as big as I've ever seen. It was MASSIVE. And it was brown. With no horns (now there's a small miracle...horns would have been OH so much worse). That's all I know about this particular cow. And that it apparently REALLY doesn't like being passed. Who knew cows suffered from road rage?

Another thing I'm thankful for: the bushes I landed in when I fell from the sky. THANK YOU BUSHES! It could just as easily been a tree, or rocks, or anything else that's substantially less cushionny than a breakable bush which saved me from tumbling down the mountain-side. Also I was quite thankful to find my shoe. It could have been almost anywhere. It could have 'catapulted' it way off down the mountain-side as I was walloped off of my bike, where I might never have found it. THAT would have sucked. The 14 mile walk was bad enough with BOTH shoes (did I mention how STIFF cycling shoes are, and how uncomfortable they truly are for hiking?) And the final thing I was REALLY thankful for: that I was not really HURT. Gosh, I could have been hurt SO BAD. That cow stomped on my bike after bashing me, and my fancy expensive wheels crumpled like paper. I'm guessing my leg bones would have stood up about the same if he had a chance to stomp them (or my body and all those necessary things like kidneys, and my liver, and all those other soft bits hidden inside). And then I would have needed that emergency rescue. Did I mention that an emergency rescue can be EXPENSIVE? Like IF they need a helicopter, it can easily go over 10 grand? I think I'd rather walk for a few hours in my stiff shoes, thank you very much.

OH...and I was down to about a quarter mile or less to go, another truck came by. Yep...that's my luck. This one stopped of course, but I could see I was very close to my car at this point, so I thanked them and kept walking...and in about 5 minutes or so I was at my car...done. OH MY GOSH my car has NEVER looked so nice! 

It's now Sunday morning, and I'm sitting here (safe) in the house taking stock of my injuries...I notice my right hip hurts some. I think that MUST be where that monster slammed me. My entire right leg is pretty scratched and scuffed up, mostly on the inside, and missing skin here and there...and the ankle hurts a fair bit too and is also missing some nice chunks of skin. But the most complaining at this point is coming from my LEFT knee. It was nicely swollen this morning and I'm really hobbling around. I have absolutely NO IDEA what happened there. Maybe it's just not very pleased with my 14 mile fast hike in hard bike-shoes...but I'm quite thankful that it didn't feel like that yesterday. That 14 miles would be a MUCH longer hike today, IF I could even bear it. I did pop an 800mg Motrin last night and again this morning after I got up...and I've been sitting with my coffee and an ice pack on it all morning. But all in all I guess I'm really lucky. That cow could have really hurt me, or even killed me I guess. So yeah... I'm banged/bruised/scuffed big deal. I'll live to ride another day, which is about all I can really ask for. But yes, the irony of me getting the smak-down by a giant cow while Mt biking isn't lost on me. Yep...Mt biking is WAY safer than road biking. Looking back, my decision to TRY to pass the cows wasn't too bright. Maybe I'll go have a nice Carls Jr. Six Dollar burger today for lunch. That's about as much redemption as I'm likely to get on that big-boy. And tomorrow I'll work on my bike. I pray I can get it working for my Sunnyvale trip next Monday (I'm heading up for 3 weeks starting the 30th). The Mt biking is WORLD CLASS up there...and I've never yet seen a cow on the trails.

Or maybe I should just take up stamp collecting? (thanks for that tip Mike! Never heard of anybody getting hurt stamp collecting!)

I found a picture online of what MY cow looked like  (the only diff that I can see is mine
had gold eyes.

And today (Weds) my "friends" at work sent me this picture...they titled it "Matt-a-dor"
Ha ha, that's pretty darn funny! Only my bull was WAY bigger. But I don't mind the NOT having horns.

And here's 3 still shots I cut out of my video from Saturday's mtb ride showing the Mt lion running across the road in front of me. Wicked cool AND scary at the same time!